Cardinals End First Day of Conclave Without Selecting New Pope

Black smoke rose from the Sistine Chapel chimney Monday evening, signaling that the cardinals had failed to reach a majority decision on who the 265th pope should be. White smoke from the burning ballots mixed with special chemicals will billow from the chimney when a new pope is named.

The cardinals will meet again Tuesday morning and hold two votes. If a majority decision still is not reached, they will have two more chances that afternoon.

The cardinals, representing 52 nations and all but three selected by Pope John Paul II, opened Monday with a special Mass before being locked away in seclusion to begin the deliberation, prayer and debate.

“I slept well, and now my ideas are clear,” the Associated Press quoted French Cardinal Paul Poupard as saying as he headed into the Mass. “I have realized the seriousness of the election. The Holy Spirit will do the rest.”

During the Mass, 78-year-old German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger offered a homily in which he urged fellow cardinals not to bow to the pressures of modern life.

“We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as definitive and has as its highest value one’s own ego and one’s own desires,” Ratzinger said at a pre-conclave Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Ratzinger, who as the dean of the College of Cardinals helped shape the conservative positions of Pope John Paul II, had emerged as something of a frontrunner over the weekend. Italian television reported that the German cardinal likely had the support of between 45 and 55 cardinals, although he remained well short of the 77 needed to be elected.

He also cautioned that the Roman Catholic Church needed to resist the “tides of trends and the latest novelties” in religious thinking and instead stay true to the well-established concepts of the Church.

“We must become mature in this adult faith, we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith,” he said.

As Ratzinger finished, applause broke out among the thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square to await the results of the conclave.

Balloting will continue four times a day, with two votes in the morning and two in the afternoon — or approximately 6 a.m. or 1 p.m. EDT, until a pope is selected.

No conclave in the past century has lasted more than five days, and the election that made Karol Wojtyla pope in October 1978 took eight ballots over three days.